Yesterday the House voted 277-148 to keep the three provisions of the USA Patriot Act on the books until Dec. 8. But Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority, and the vote was 7 short of reaching that level.
The Patriot Act bill would have renewed the authority for court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. Also addressed was Section 215, the so-called library records provision that gives the FBI court-approved access to “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation.
44 of the 52 Republican members the official ‘Tea Party Caucus’ voted to renew the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. This is why I believe the Libertarian Party, not the Tea Party movement, is the party of the Constitution.
The Tea Party talks the talk but fails to walk the walk when it comes to the Constitution. Representative Ron Paul, considered by many to be the ideological founder of the modern day tea party movement, is not a member of the Tea Party caucus.
The majority of Republicans, including members of the TP caucus are against the welfare state but in favor of the surveillance state. Libertarians support the Constitution, which does not authorize either.
Sadly, this revolt against the surveillance state probably won’t last. There are more than the 218 votes needed to pass reauthorization under normal procedures. What’s uncertain is whether the reauthorization will contain mild oversight provisions, and when the provisions will end.
As Cato’s Julian Sanchez notes, there are two Democratic Senate versions that reauthorize these provisions for three years. The Republican House version sunsets them until December 2011, while the Republican Senate proposal makes them permanent.
Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy’s version of the bill would reign in Section 215 orders and provide some key oversight over the use of the widely abused National Security Letters, but those modest reforms were too much for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), so she introduced an alternate bill without them.
This bill does nothing to protect citizens from the Islamic Jihad being waged by terrorists against American citizens. The government won’t even use the words Muslim and Islam to describe the terrorists who have targeted our country. That is politically incorrect and forbidden by the Obamanation and the GOP establishment. Yet for decades the government had no problem identifying the IRA terrorists as Catholic extremists. Go figure?
The Patriot Act will be used to target Americans, who speak out against the government. The Patriot Act will be used against so called “domestic terrorists”, not Islam. The Constitution gives the federal government all the tools that it needs to fight terrorism. Show probable cause and get a warrant signed by a judge from the Judicial branch of the government.